Changes in Postcommunist Gender Regime: The Case of Central and Eastern Europe in Comparative Perspective
APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper
“Gender regime” is used here to describe the interlocking political, economic and cultural conditions that differentially regulate the lives of men and women. Two sets of global gender-sensitive measures of development and inequality — the UNDP’s indices and the World Economic Forum’s GGI — may aid in assessing changes in the gender regime taking place in postcommunist Central and Eastern Europe. To compensate for alterations in the methods of calculation for some of these indices and to make these indices comparable across time, we recalculated them using consistent algorithm.
Although the UNDP’s and the WEF’s indices portray similarly improving trends, when we compare these trends to other measures of development and gender inequality, we see vastly different conditions and possibilities of improvement for the postcommunist countries. These indices also conflict by indicating either a broadening or a narrowing gender gap. Consequently, the interpretations of how the gender regime has changed in the postcommunist countries remains elusive even after twenty years of observation.
Even in the wake of seismic social changes in the postcommunist countries, the increasing importance of gender equality and the proliferation of various global indices to measure it, we ask why there continues to be a lack of reliable assessment. While global indices on gender-sensitive development and gender inequality account for macro-level changes, their complex algorithms cancel out important changes and gloss over the hard-to-quantify but crucial aspects of social change, such as modifications of reproductive rights, trends in violence against women and symbolic representations in the media. Thus, the complex indices need to be used in conjunction with local themes of social movement activism that focuses on the latter issues of the gender regime. This combination of observations may better allow for tracing the changing meanings, measures and opportunities to improve gender inequality.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 29
Keywords: Gender, Equality, UNDP, World Economic Forum, GDI, GEM, GII, Postcommunist, Eastern Europe
JEL Classification: A13, I100, J00, J71, O19, O20, O52, P17, P51working papers series
Date posted: August 1, 2011 ; Last revised: August 13, 2011
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